OREM, Utah – The Utah Valley University Athletics family is mourning the loss of one of its own. Former women’s volleyball coach Lori Richards, who was one of the most successful coaches in the school’s history, passed away over the weekend.
Richards was the head coach of UVU’s women’s volleyball program for 18 years, from 1981 to 1998 and is a member of the UVU Athletics Hall of Fame.
“This is a sad day for Utah Valley University and the Wolverines,” said UVU Director of Athletics Michael V. Jacobsen. “Coach Lori Richards has been such an influential part of who we are today. She began coaching and teaching here in 1981 and was the head coach of our basketball, volleyball and softball teams. In 1984, her head coaching duties were limited to her true love, volleyball, where she continued for the next 15 years with tremendous success.”
“Her leadership and exceptional coaching skills helped lay the foundation of where our volleyball program is today. Lori was the ultimate team player, always doing her best. Our goal is to endow a volleyball scholarship in her name to perpetuate the great contributions that she made to our program, to the university and to the sport of volleyball. The legacy of Coach Lori Richards will live on forever,” Jacobsen said.
Highly respected in collegiate volleyball circles, Richards was named to the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000 after posting 482 career wins. In her final year at then-UVSC she was named the NJCAA Coach of the Year after leading the Wolverines to a 46-9 record. UVU was ranked as high as third in the nation that season, and the 46 wins Richards earned were the most ever for a Wolverine team.
Richards had an admirable .743 overall career winning percentage at UVU, with a 482-167 record.
In Scenic West Athletic Conference play alone she was even more impressive with a .815 percentage. In 18 years, she won 10 conference titles and had a 145-33 league record. She won four region titles and finished as high as third in the nation at the NJCAA nationals. She was named Region Coach of the Year four times. Her teams were perennial conference, regional, and national contenders.
The Long Beach, Calif., native was inducted into the UVU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. She is one of 29 members that currently reside in the hall.
Current UVU women’s volleyball coach Sam Atoa coached two years at BYU prior to coming to Orem and coaching under Richards but he attributes her for helping him learn his craft.
“I coached six years under Lori and I can truly thank her for teaching me how to coach women’s volleyball,” Atoa said. “It was a great experience for me because of what kind of a coach she was.”
“Lori was somebody that everyone loved and she loved them too, unless you were on the opposing team. She really cared about her athletes and us as coaches. She was very lovable and hugged everybody. You could always see her smile from far away and being around that always helped you keep your spirits up. Lori was also a very vibrant, energetic and lovable person.”